History of the Polish People in Rochester
Norman T. Lyon
This volume seeks to accomplish a twofold purpose. The life and affairs of the immigrant group which it concerns have been treated more as integral steps in a process than as a series of episodic events chronologically arranged. Thus, for the American or non-Polish reader, it is intended to clarify the significance of local events in their relation to Polish-American development generally, and for the Polish-American reader, to demonstrate the growth and fruition of the Polish cause in this country as exemplified in a typical community.
This method of handling the subject seems to be necessary because of the somewhat unique character of the Pole as an immigrant in the United States. While it is true that all the ordinary factors leading to immigration in general no doubt operated in more or less degree to bring about our present Polish strain, one factor also operated in the case of this nationality alone. From 1795, virtually until 1920, the Pole was a natural prototype of the "man without a country". An extraordinary national spirit, the tenacious survival of which eventually resulted in the restoration of Poland to the map of Europe, drove thousands of Poles from their native soil in a persistent quest for a political atmosphere in which the future rebirth of their nation might be tangibly provided for. In a sense, therefore, the Pole in coming to America may be said to have been seeking, and not escaping from, Poland.
The discordant note which might be expected to have proceeded from this state of affairs has never arisen, probably because the long lapse of time since the last partition, with its consequent submergence of the factional rivalry to which the partitions themselves were in part due, has lent an ideal character to the Polish nationalist motive and has brought it into sympathetic harmony with the American ideals of liberty and patriotism.
The continuous advance of the nationalist movement working at all times through scattered communities of Poles all over the United States, has in a pronounced degree determined the various histories of such communities, a circumstance which would render the story of our local graup unintelligible to the non-Polish reader without an adequate consideration of the nationalist background against which specific events have materialized.
Moreover, the ever changing and always decentralized development of this nationalist movement sometimes made it difficult for Polish leaders themselves to understand how certain momentous results were brought about. It is hoped that the recorded picture of these forces at work in a typical community where surrounding civic conditions were admirably adapted to their expression, may prove interesting and instructive to the Polish-American reader.
For aid in the successful solution of many research problems encountered during the progress of this work, the author is deeply indebted to numerous persons and agencies, and regrets that limited space does not permit personal mention of more than a few of these. The author is especially grateful for the untiring assistance and understanding of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund F. Lorentz, and Mr. Stanley K. Kowalski, Rev. Stanislaus J. Szupa and Mr. John Janczewski were of material help in searching old community records found among the parish archives of St. Stanislaus, many of which were in Latin. Grateful recognition is accorded the late Ret. Ignatius J. Klejna, former St. Stanislaus rector for his services in reading portions of the uncompleted volume relating to events occurring during his pastorate. Acknowledgment also is due Adam Felerski, attorney, for his personal advice and information supplied from his extensive library of clippings pertaining to local Polish affairs.
The author has much appreciated the cooperation received from Mr. Edward R. Foreman, Rochester City Historian, the Rochester Public Library, Reynolds Library, and all local newspaper offices which have freely rendered accessible many valuable and interesting documents.
A major portion of the detailed routine labor necessary to the publication of the book has been enthusiastically performed by volunteer workers, to whom thanks is due. Public acknowledgment should be made in this connection to Miss Stefania Dobrochowska, Mr. Julian Wojcik, and Miss Jenat Kozlowska.
Tombstone, Francis Salezy Wolowski
Rev. George Beranek
Valley Lodge meeting place (1855)
Rev. Fridolm Pascalar
Rev. Theophilus Szadzinski
Maps, northeast section (1882)
Old St. Stanislaus Church
Charter membership. P. N. A., Group 216
National Church of St. Casimir
Falcon Society members, excavating for hall
Charter membership, Echo Singing Society
Echo Musical Society Building
Charter membership, Hudson Stars baseball team
Group. P. N. A., Group 1200
Rev. Ludwig Adamus
Polish Baptist Church
Falcon group in military training
Group of Falconettes
Group, Felerski, Paderewaki, Behan
War Chest check, Polish relief
Homelands Exposition group
Group, Kowalski, Klejna
St. Theresa's Church
Group, Directors Polonia Civic Centre
Mrs. Walter Wojtczak
The tombstone of Francis Salezy Wolowski which marks his grave in the Old Masonic Lot of Valley Lodge, Mount Hope Cemetery. Upon the front of the monument is engraved the following inscription, almost illegible with age. A partial translation of which appears in the English language on its reverse side:
"Tu Spoczywa Franciszek Salezy Wolowski, Sędzia Trybunatu Cywilnego 1-ej Instancyj w Kaliszu; Urodzil sie w Warszawie dnia 29 Stycznia 1805; Zakończył Życie w Rochester dnia 12 Lipca 1857. Ten Pomnik podarowany mu jest jako datek wdzięczności snya oplakującego Stratę tak przedwczesną najlepszego Ojca. Módlcie się za niego gdyź nietylko Że posiadal najlepsze Serce ale i odznaczył się najzaszczytniejszemi Czynami tak własnef Ojezyźnie jako i w odlegtych krańcach Ameryki. Pozostawil Żonę i liczną Familję, tudzieź tych co mieli szczęście poznania Go bliźej w Najgtębszej rozpaczy. I za co będzie Wam wdzięczny Dozgonnie Oplakuący Ojca. Syn Zyqmunt Wolowski."
Personal Subscribers to the Support of the Publications of this Book
The following signatories to a certificate endorsing the belief that the History of the Polish People in Rochester will prove a valuable contribution to the archives of this city and, expressing thereby their appreciation of the patriotic and civic ideals manifested by the citizens of Polish extraction, have lent their influence and co-operated financially in the publication of this volume. The original of this certificate is preserved in a cache with other historical documents in the back of General Pulaski Plaque, in the city branch library at Corner Hudson Avenue and Norton Street:
Allen, Whitcomb B., Superintendent, Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Balcerak, Rev. Joseph A., Pastor, St. Stanislaus R. C. Church.
Bareham, Harry J., Former Monroe County Treasurer.
Bechtold, Charles B., Former Assistant District Attorney.
Beebe, E. L. Verton, Chief, City Probation Bureau.
Bielski. Henry, LL.B.
Bostwick, Charles E., M.A.
Bradstreet, Dr. Samuel W., M.D.
Briggs, Theodore C., Lit.B., Former Manager of the City of Rochester.
Cilano, Cosmo H. LL.B., Former New York State Senator.
Comfort, Dr. Clifford V. C., M.D.
Cuff, James B., CE., LL.B.
Cunningham, Hon. Benjamin B., Justice, Supreme Court of the State of New York.
Dentinger, Edward A., President, North-East Rochester Civic League.
Feely, Hon. Joseph M., Surrogate of Monroe County.
Federbusch, Philip, City Probation Officer.
Felerski, Adam, LL.B., Cavalier. Order of Polonia Restituta of Poland.
Folger, Paul, A.B., LL.B.
Fowler, Ray E., LL.B., Former District Attorney,
Gannett, Frank E., A.B., M.A., Trustee, Cornell University and of Keuka College, Publisher, Gannett Newspapers.
Gelser, Irwin I., LL.B., Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Rochester.
Guzzetta, Dr. Joseph L., D.D.S.
Hallauer, Carl S., Vice-president, Bausch & Lomb Optical Co.
Hale, Ezra A., A.B., Lieutnt. A.E.F., Assisted in convoy of General Joseph Haller's Army to Poland in 1919.
Halsey, Hampton H., LL.B,
Hock, Louis G., President, Underwriters Board of Rochester.
Hart, Alfred, President, Jewish Children's Home and of Beth El Temple.
Gelser, Irwin I., Assistant City Corporation Counsel.
Guzzetta, Dr. Joseph L., D.D.S.
Hallauer, Carl S., Vice-president, Bausch & Lomb Optical Company.
Halsey, Hampton H., LL.B.
Hart, Alfred, President Jewish Children's Home, Beth El Temple, Hart Stores.
Hock, Louis C., President Underwriters Board of Rochester.
Jacobstein, Meyer, Ph.D., Publisher, Rochester Journal-American.
Jones, Abram Nicholls, A.B., Chief, County Probation Bureau.
Kaleta, John J., Deputy Welfare Commissioner. City of Rochester.
Kanty, Charles L., President, C. L. Kanty Paper Box Manufacturing Company.
Kominz, Dr. Jacob S., MD., B.Sc
Kowalski, Matthew, B.S., LL.B.
Kohlmetz, William C., A.B., LL.B., Monroe County Court Judge.
Koscianski, Leo C., M.D.
Kula, Rev, Joseph F., Pastor, St. Casimir's, Polish National Catholic Reformed Church.
Lowe, John Adams, M.A., Director Rochester Public Library.
Mahoney, Austin J., Collector, Port of Rochester,
McFarlin, Harold S. W., City Councilman.
McInterney, John J., LL.B., Fourth Vice-president, Rochester Automobile Club.
Miller, Edward L., Executive Secretary, Master Plumbers; Former City Councilman.
Mix, Hon. Frederick J., Judge, City Court of Rochester.
Morrall, James I., Treasurer, Monroe County.
Mykins, Thomas B., Former Deputy Monroe County Clerk (Died May 1935).
Nier, George J., LL.B., Pormer Commissioner of Public Safety.
Nixon, T. Carl, LL.B.
O'Connor, James P., LL.B., Judge, City Court of Rochester.
O'Mara, Daniel J., LL.B., District Attorney of Monroe County.
Oviatt, Percival D., A.B., President of Alumni Association, University of Rochester, Former Mayor of Rochester.
Owen, Charles S., Former Mayor, City of Rochester.
Popp-Paprzycki, Edwin C., Clerk, City Treasurer's Office.
Paprocki, Joseph R., LL.B.
Remington, Harvey F., LL.B,, Vice-president, Rochester Historical Society; President, Board of Trustees, Rochester Public Library.
Remington, Thomas H., A.B., LL.B., Colonel (U. S. Reserves), Assisted in convoy of General Joseph Haller's Army to Poland in 1919.
Rhees, Dr. Rush, A.M., LL.D., D.D., President and Trustee of the University of Rochester, Cavalier, Order of Polonia Restituta of Poland, Knight Order of St. Sava of Jugoslavia, President, Board of Managers, Memorial Art Gallery, Trustee Reynolds Library and of Mechanics' Institute.
Rosenberg, Harry, LL.B., Former Judge, City Court of Rochester.
Searle, Truman G., LL.B.
Slater, Fred J., LL.B., Former New York State Senator.
Stanton, Hon. Charles, Mayor of the City of Rochester.
Tompkins, Hon. William H., LL.B., Judge, City Court of Rochester.
Udell, William F., Former Monroe County Welfare Commissioner.
Westbury, Raymond E., Former Judge, City Court of Rochester.
Whitley, James L., Former Representative, United States Congress.
Wilder, Hon. Arthur L., LL.B., Judge, City Court of Rochester.
Wiltsie, Charles H., LL.B., President, Rochester Historical Society and of the Board of Trustees, Rochester Public Library (Died May 10, 1935).
Wojtczak, Sir Walter M., K.G.
Zaionczek, Frank, A.B., Lit.B., Professor, Polish National Alliance College, Cambridge Springs, Pa.
Zielinski, William S., LL.B.
HISTORY OF THE POLISH PEOPLE IN ROCHESTER
THE AMERICAN CITY as an institution, possessing, as it does, certain peculiar qualities which distinguish it from cities elsewhere in the world, has offered an especially favorable medium for the development of the foreign group. It is young - startlingly young, when considered in relation to London. Paris, Krakow or Peiping, and its youth thus far has saved it from that forbidding crust of tradition which surrounds great cities of the old world. It is restless with the atmosphere of change, and draws men daily into new fields of endeavor. Its boundaries are fluid and provide expanding opportunities for the private ownership of land awl the creation of homes. These things, in contrast to the deep seated prejudices, cultural, economic and territorial, which ages of time have rooted in the municipal concepts of Europe and Asia, have made the American city a fertile ground for the growth of many separate communities, of origins alien to each other, each living, perhaps as a unit, from social or linguistic causes, but striving toward a goal of civic achievement essentially common to the mass.
Moreover, the composite mind of the immigrant has consistently been of a hopeful character during the years in which these foreign groups were establishing themselves, a circumstance which has contributed much to their healthy development. He has come hoping to find freedom from religious persecution, to place himself upon firmer economic ground, to think and express his thoughts in a more congenial political environment. For the most part his hopes have been realized, and this fact also, has imparted the attribute of health to the growth of his communities.
Thus it may be said that the natural endowments of the American city, together with the confident outlook of the immigrant, have prevented foreign groups from becoming mere stagnant pools of unassimilated aliens, and have made them vital, living tributaries in the current of American civic life.
In considering the early origins of Polish groups of this nature, the problem of identification immediately arises, for the Slav has appeared unexpectedly in remote corners of the world from earliest times, and it is always difficult to determine to which of several Slavic branches he belongs. The science of ethnography, in fact, is still vague concerning the anthropological source of his race, and his tempestuous history, replete with foreign invasion and military colonization, clouds the racial boundaries of his various divisions even down to the present day. Particularly is this true respecting the Poles, because of the periodic domination of the Polish state by neighboring powers, and the complete lapse of Polish political existence for over one hundred years prior to the World War. Indeed, the strong national spirit brought about by this age-long persecution is in itself the chief unifying influence to which the diverse racial groups of Poland have responded, and its presence in the individual, wherever it has had the opportunity to become manifest, is a surer index to his Polish nationality than the roots of his family tree. It is therefore difficult categorically to assert the positive Polish nationality of individuals or groups, where nothing concerning them is available save the dubious statistics compiled by alien agencies. On the other hand, it is a fact that the Poles consistently have been the most numerous of the Slavic immigrants to the United States, and, in the absence of express proof to the contrary, any Slavic group appearing in early records may be presumed to contain a goodly sprinkling of Poles.
|There appear to be three overlapping stages in the emigration of Poles to this country. The first arrivals were principally nobles and military exiles, whose patriotic enterprises in their native land had been unsuccessful and who were obliged for political reasons to leave the country. Kosciuszko and Pulaski, immortal for their sacrifices in the cause of American liberty as well as Polish, are famous examples of this class, though by no means the only members of it. The second stage represents the artisan class and to some extent is supplemented by the wealthier peasants, chiefly from German Poland, where economic conditions were somewhat more favorable, and a small capital was more easily accumulated. The third stage is predominantly a peasant and refugee movement, arising out of the Polish revolution of 1863 and the subsequent political indignities practised upon the Polish people by ruling governments.(1)||(Footnote 1) These three migratory movements are much confused with each other and the records of immigration offer meager aid in clearing the confusion, but it is thought that a close study of the available facts and comparison of them with conditions in Poland during the nineteenth century will warrant the generalization.|
German Poland gave the United States its first substantial influx of Polish people. Following the third partition in 1795 Prussia's policy with respect to Poland aimed at conciliation and assimilation through the betterment of economic conditions, but when 12,000 German Poles crossed the border in 1830 to join in the revolution against Russia, the Prussian government embarked upon a policy of strict control, which Bismarck greatly augmented upon his accession to power, to the intense dissatisfaction of the Poles. Poles from German Poland therefore, were coming to our shores in gradually increasing numbers from about 1830.
The greatest number of Russian Poles has emigrated to the United States since 1863. This year saw the last great Polish revolution, and upon its conclusion the following year, the Russian government determined to stamp out Polish nationalism by a program of force, suppression and political trickery, which drove thousands of Poles of all classes out of the country. This exodus continued almost to the outbreak of the World War.
|Immigration to the United States from Austrian Poland (Galicia, Silesia) is somewhat later and is chiefly economic in character, because, while the Austrian government did not flaunt an oppressive militarism over the Polish people, it was woefully disregardful of their physical well-being, and the Austrian Pole, no less than his German and Russian compatriots, had reasons for seeking his fortune in the new world. It is difficult to ascribe this immigration to specific events in Europe. It appears more to be the expression of the migratory wave then sweeping over Poland, which seems to have reached this region in the '70s and '80s. (2)||(Footnote 2) Balch: Our Slavic Fellow Citizens.|
An interesting mental picture may be evolved from a consideration of certain events in the early history of Rochester in their chronological relation to the course of European affairs respecting Poland.
The year 1788, in which Indian Allan, our picturesque forerunner, was presented by Oliver Phelps with the Hundred Acre Tract, in which to build the first mill at the Genesee Falls, Poland was still seething with the political unrest aroused by the first partition. Catherine the Great, now an old woman, had still eight remaining years in which to dream of Russian conquest, and was not to die until she had brought about the complete dismemberment of Poland as a national state. In 1792 while William Hincher was gaining a rugged livelihood for his lonely family in the first white man's hut at the mouth of the Genesee River, Frederick William II of Prussia was considering with his ministers the second partition of Poland. This partition and the third (1795) took place while Rochester was scarcely more than a swampy woodland. In the same year (1812) in which the first bridge was completed over the Genesee Falls, and when the inhabitants of the little settlement were fearfully expecting a British invasion from Canadian shores, Napoleon Bonaparte was recruiting seventy thousand Poles for his ill-fated campaign against Russia, with dubious promises of freedom for Poland, which were never fulfilled. It was in 1818, the year in which Nathaniel Rochester brought his family from Dansville to settle in their new home in Rochesterville at the corner of Exchange and Spring Streets, that Alexander I of Russia, in a half-hearted attempt to placate his Polish domains, convoked a Polish Diet in person, promising great reforms which were cruelly frustrated by the reactionary Constantine, whom the Czar, politically more generous than shrewd, had appointed to the command of Warsaw.
Geographically remote as these isolated instances may be, they possess, nevertheless, a certain subtle significance. While the little village on the banks of the Genesee was laying in the wilderness the foundations of a great city that was to be, the forces of destiny at work across the Atlantic were producing a state of affairs which in time to come would plant within our city limits the seed of our present flourishing Polish community.
|There are indications that Slavic influence entered this community very early in its history, and since, as has been said, the Poles have always provided America with its largest contingent of Slavic immigrants, it is probable that some of this influence was Polish. Bethalick, a name appearing in the first directory for the village of Rochester (1827), is strongly suggestive of Slavic derivation and Bartholick, a variation of the same root, appears in the 1834 and a number of suhsequent directories. Retan, another name encountered in the 1834 directory, reveals a Slavic origin. The directory for 1838 contains Papin and Podesta, both names which indicate the presence of a Slavic strain. As against one such name in 1827 and two in 1834, there are no less than sixteen in 1849 (3), from which it is apparent that this Slavic influence was augmenting in fair proportion to the contemporary growth of the city. Furthermore, an inclination toward more definite Slavic spelling is observed in these later names, in a few instances leaving little doubt of Polish or near-Polish origin.||(Footnote 3) City directories at this time were not issued from year to year or even at regular intervals, and from 1827 through 1849 only six directories of Rochester were published.|
The intelligent analysis of these sources is greatly complicated by the wholesale misspelling of Slavic names in early records. The wide gap which exists between the inflexible letter combinations of the English tongue and the sibilant phonetics of the Slavic has inspired the continuous attempt on both sides to reach a common level in the matter of spelling, resulting, for the most part, in baffling confusion.
|However, the presence of Slavic influence is not to be assumed entirely from a reference to the uncertain annals of early directories. Rev. Peter Czackert, associated with Father Prost at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church in 1838, was undoubtedly a Slav, and Rev. Anthony Urbanczik, who followed his calling at the same church from 1847 to 1849, was probably a Pole. It is highly probable that Rev. George Beranek, of St. Joseph's (1848-50) was Polish, although his later affiliation in the city of Baltimore was with a Bohemian church. Father Beranek was much esteemed among his parishioners and performed valuable services in promoting the erection of the building which, with later improvements and additions, still houses the veteran Church of St. Joseph. It is significant, in this connection, that most of the names presumed to be of Slavic derivation encountered in these early directories appear to be those of persons who lived in the vicinity of and doubtless attended St. Joseph's Church. From these indications it is natural to suppose that they constituted the beginnings of a Slavic community and it is not unlikely that the presence of Slavic priests expressed in some measure the Church's desire to draw this tiny racial nucleus into its fold.||
Rev. George Beranek
|That early Rochester was vitally aware of Polish affairs cannot be doubted. The "amnesty ukase" promulgated by Nicholas I of Russia concerning Polish political exiles in Siberia aroused a curiously vitriolic comment appearing in the Rochester Republican for December 5th, 1837, and the narrative of the Count and Countess Podotski (Potocki), typically Slavic, was reprinted in full, from some unmentioned source, in the Daily Democrat for March 8th of the same year. The Canadian Rebellion of 1837, an uprising which occasioned considerable excitement in Rochester, brought into prominence the names of at least two Poles, who fought on opposite sides in that brief but stirring revolution. ". . . . The Globenski Corps proved a very efficient body" in the battle of St. Eustache, according to Captain Beauclerk, of the victorious Loyalist army, referring to a corps of men trained and employed under the leadership of the patriot Globenski, and the Canadian career of Colonel "Niles Gustaf Schobtewski (4) Von Schoultz" was one in which Rochester took active interest.||(Footnote 4) A Germanic misspelling of the Polish name Szeptycki; the name of a well known family of Polish noblemen of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to which Col. Von Schoultz may have belonged.|
|Colonel Von Schoultz (variously spelled Schultz, Shultz, etc.) was "a Polish refugee, of a noble family, having commanded a regiment in the Polish Revolution," (5) and had allied himself with the Canadian revolutionary anny. His military operations were largely in the vicinity of Lake Ontario and a number of accounts respecting him appear in contemporary Rochester newspapers. It is thought that Colonel Von Schoultz visited Rochester sometime late in the year 1837, shortly before the disastrous "Battle of the Windmill" in which he was captured by the British army, and although it is impossible apparently to verify this belief, there is no doubt of the interest displayed by Rochester in his affairs. His capture, court martial and eventual execution became the subject of an interesting article, published in the Daily Democrat for December 24, 1838. In fact, the feeling of sympathetic admiration for this unfortunate patriot seems to have been genuine and universal. D. B. Read, the historian of the rebellion says of him, "Von Schultz (6) was a brave and generous man; he was a victim of more designing men who led him to the course which brought him to the gallows." (7)||(Footnote 5) ROCHESTER DAILY DEMOCRAT. December 24. 1838.
(Footnote 6) So in original.
(Footnote 7) D. B. Read: The Rebellion of 1837. (Pub. 1896).
Some of the sixteen names thought to be of Slavic origin in the directory for 1849 must have been those of persons or families to whom Father Beranek ministered during his brief sojourn in this city. Even though Amaracka, Brabyn, Malachowsky, Raback, may not represent individuals whose birth or immediate ancestry was native to eastern Europe, yet the conclusion is irresistible that the possessors of these names were of Slavic extraction sufficiently recent to possess them, and sufficiently stamped with a Slavic cultural identity to have refrained from discarding them.
It is interesting to peruse the occupations in which these early Slavs engaged, according to the directories in which their names appear, although few reliable conclusions may be drawn from such a study. For most of the Slavic or Polish names, the occupations are largely of the humbler variety in older records. A number are listed merely as laborers, while in several cases there are indications of skilled labor, i. e., joiner, carpenter, cooper, blacksmith, stone cutter, cabinet maker, etc. Without exception, the unmarried women appear as domestic servants. This, however, is doubtless due to the custom which then prevailed, of omitting from census records the names of all women except widows and those engaged independently in gainful occupations, virtually the only one of which open to the female sex at that time in a small community being that of domestic servant.
|In later directories there appear the names of a few Slavs whose occupations are of more genteel and in some cases professional character John H. Kollatchny (8) is listed as a law student in 1859. A furrier, Alexander Kolowski, evidently found Rochester a profitable home for six successive years for his name, bizarrely garbled by the census takers with a kind of malignant persistence, managed to survive the ravages of several directories in recognizable form. The year 1867 brought to the city a painter of miniatures, who is oddly listed as Count John DeBeerski, a name difficult to classify as to nationality but of course possessing an nmnistakably Polish ending.||(Footnote 8) Anglo-Saxon misspelling of the Polish name Kolaczny.|
|Mention here should be made of the Honorable Francis Salezy Wolowski, whose weather beaten tombstone in Mount Hope Cemetery entitles him "Judge of the Supreme Court of the 1st instance of the Kingdom of Poland," and who resided in the city of Rochester for two years (1855-57), earning his livelihood and that of his wife by conducting classes in the "French and other languages" at the corner of East Avenue and William Street. Judge Wolowaki, according to the newspaper account of his death, came to America as an exile in 1855 and settled in Rochester, becoming a member of Valley Lodge of Masons, the oldest Masonic body in this city, under the auspices of which his funeral services were conducted. The meager information to be gleaned from his monument and the death notice already referred to shows that, having been born in Warsaw (1805), he had received a broad cultural and professional education in his native land, rising to high judicial office in the so-called "Kingdom of Poland", a territory in Russian Poland containing the city of Warsaw, and governed by the brother of the Czar as titular sovereign. The reasons for his exile, whether official or otherwise, are shrouded in mystery so far as local records are concerned, but the gradually more oppressive discriminations which continued to be imposed upon the learned professions after the 1830 outbreak very probably explain the presence of Judge Wolowski in the United States. Following his death, his widow, as Mrs. F. S. Wolowski. continued teaching her hushand's pupils for one year, disappearing from the records after 1857. (9)||
Building at northeast corner of Main and State Streets, in which Valley Lodge met during the years 1855-57.
|(Footnote 9) It is stated in the inscription upon the tombstone of Judge Wolowski that the stone was erected by a son, and a "numerous family" is referred to; however, the Rochester directories for 1855-57 include no persons of this name save Judge Wolowski and his widow and the account of his death in the newepaper mentions the widow as having "no relative in this country". It is probable, therefore, that no other members of the family took up permanent residence in Rochester at any time.|
For eight successive years (1863-1871) Rochester directories contain the strongly Polish name of Vincent A. Horjesky, at first designated "domestic missionary" and later, without exception, a clergyman. Exhaustive inquiry has failed to yield facts upon which a satisfactory account of this man may be based. During the years in which the Rev. Horjesky resided in Rochester, he appears to have made his home on Weld Street, and his business dealings with another of the same profession, traceable in the real property records of the Monroe County Clerk's office, suggest Presbyterian affiliations. No official connection with any Rochester church can be established, however. His name, therefore, unmistakably of Polish derivation, and supported by no biographical or personal information, remains but an interesting and mysterious curiosity.
A lack of complete personnel records in the archives of the Civil War makes it impossible to state with certainty the extent to which Rochester Slavs participated actively in that struggle. Of two, however, there seems no doubt. William Smala and Theodore Czarnowski enlisted from Rochester in the 18th New York Battery, participating with this light artillery unit in the battle of Mobile and the stirring victory at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Czarnowski was eighteen years of age when he enlisted, had "light hair" and "blue eyes", and gave his birthplace as "Prussia", according to the sketchy statistics of the United States War Department, intriguing but aggravating in their curt brevity. It is possible that others joined the Polish Legion organized in New York City under the leadership of Colonel Krzyzanowski, to which Slavs from widely scattered sections of the country were attracted.
|It is noticeable that over a period of years following the Civil War our Polish residents appear more to be associated with German groups, and names seem to take on a Teutonic caste, a circumstance which has an interesting explanation. As the city began to assume a pronounced industrial character, the Pole came more actively to realize the limitations of his nationality and name in the all important business of obtaining employment. Conservative employers were suspicious of men born under German, Austrian or Russian flags who persisted in proclaiming allegiance to a country politically and territorially dead, and regarded this procedure as arising from a dangerously revolutionary point of view. Foremen and those whose duty it was to make personal contacts with prospective employees were impatient with names unfamiliar and difficult to spell. Therefore the Pole, who in Rochester was more than likely to be from Posen or vicinity, adopted the simple hut very necessary expedient of assuming a German name, posing as a German, and freely using the German language, in which he was thoroughly adept. It is impossible, of course, to know how extensively this subterfuge was used, but it undoubtedly explains in a large part the difficulty in tracing the scattered Polish residents of a growing industrial city whose foreign population at the time was markedly German. (10)||(Footnote 10) A number of our older Polish residents alive today employed this device during the period to which reference is made and have related to the author many interesting stories in this connection.|
In rare instances it will be found that a name, undeniably Polish and derived from a remote Polish ancestor, has survived several generations of alien nationality. An example of this survival is found in the late Professor Alexander Trzeciak, for many years a teacher of foreign languages in the Rochester Free Academy. Professor Trzeciak, a native of Berlin, came of an old German family and of course regarded himself altogether as a German, which in fact he was; yet his name is in no sense Teutonic, being not only of Slavic caste, but definitely Polish. In the light of the ready and widespread alteration of inconvenient names which is usually met with, there can be little doubt that these notable exceptions to the general rule indicate the presence of family pride or some equally positive factor powerful enough through the years to have transcended all considerations of momentary advantage or expediency.
Socially, indeed, the few Poles mingled on agreeable terms with their German neighbors, a situation to which the presence of several such families in Rochester may have contributed, but as Poles, no opportunity existed for common association, other than such functions, possibly, as the joint concert of Anton Rubinstein and Henry Wieniawski in 1872, where, it may safely be assumed, the audience contained as many Polish families as were within convenient traveling radius of Rochester.
Early in March of the year 1876, along the old railroad which then skirted the shores of Lake Ontario, there passed a certain train which justifies a brief digression at this point, for at one of its windows, gazing reflectively over the marshy landscape of western New York, sat Henry Sienkiewicz. A young man, writing for his newspaper in Poland, he had just undertaken the long American journey which was later to he recorded in his "Letters of Travel". Unfortunately, he made no stop in the city proper, and seems chiefly to have been impressed by the extraordinary swampiness of the spring season. "Fields were flooded, and wooded tracts, often of great extent, appeared to be growing out of a huge lake." The immensity of Lake Ontario reminded him strongly of the ocean, and his brief but rich description of the "rough huts of fishermen, whose boats tugged at their moorings a few feet from the cottage doors", before which "hung nets, still wet and glistening" over "heaps of water weeds and the pungent debris of fishermen", paints a picture still familiar along the ponds and bays just west of Rochester. As few as are the words allotted to this locality by the distinguished traveler, hastily journeying westward to the Pacific, there is a peculiar thrill in the thought that they were penned by the same hand which inscribed the Trilogy and "Quo Vadis" immortally upon the pages of time.
Indeed, had Sienkiewicz alighted from the train and sought to find his countrymen in the city of Rochester, the search might well have been a tedious one, for from causes already mentioned, the few Poles were more than ever scattered about the community, living somewhat incognito as isolated individuals within other racial groups. The tendency to follow places of employment at first explains most of this disorganization and social and religious affiliations resulting from this tendency had now in many cases become so fixed as to constitute causes in themselves. St. Joseph's parish still had Slavs within its fold, and St. Michael's, having originated through the labors of a priest connected with St. Joseph's, possessed a Slavic group, more probably Polish. A few Polish families had become associated with St. Bridget's Church and still another group of Germanic Poles front the vicinity of Pomerania attended St. Boniface Church, some of whose descendants are still members of that parish. These developments, coupled as they were with the expedient modification of surnames, spell a trend toward gradual disunity, involuntary but nevertheless real, which, however, had not progressed far enough as yet to obliterate unmistakable units of Polish nationality, later to be drawn together in response to new stimuli arising from without as well as from within.
The movement toward closer organization of Polish groups in the United States became fairly general during the late seventies and eighties and resulted largely from the disastrous Polish.Russian revolution of 1863. Following the crushing defeat of this uprising, the unbearable conditions imposed upon the native Pole by ruling powers sent hint wholesale to the United States. This immigrant, a penniless refugee in most cases, was not so much seeking voluntarily the boon of American freedom as frantically escaping a painful and intolerable bondage. His resentment of Poland's miserable plight was horn of acute despair and his active determination to play a part in her restoration was a fierce, unquenchable flame surviving death itself, to burn anew in his American-born descendants. Thus his type, as well as the numbers in which he arrived, furnished a powerful impetus toward greater cohesion among Poles in America.
On February 29, 1880, the convention met in the city of Philadelphia out of which grew the Polish National Alliance, an organization of American Poles dedicated to the preservation of native culture and looking to the possible future opportunity of rising to the assistance of Poland. As this society did not immediately spread its strong arm into the tiny Polish community of Rochester, further discussion of the subject is relegated to its proper chronological place. It is mentioned here as demonstrating the spirit of organization which, during these two decades (1870-1890), rolled like a psychological tidal wave over the scattered Polish groups in this country.
|This spirit of organization, penetrating the small Rochester group of Poles, met with already existing local factors favorable to its success, chief among which was the presence of Rev. Fridolm Pascalar as rector of St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church. Heretofore the visits to Rochester of Father Klawiter and Father Zareczny of Buffalo for the purpose of hearing confessions had afforded the only opportunity for contact with a priest of Polish sympathies. Since assuming the rectorship of St. Michael's in November, 1873, however, Father Pascalar had maintained a friendly and sympathetic interest in the Polish members of his parish, and his far-seeing and intelligent understanding of their problems and aspirations had led him to encourage the ultimate creation of a new parish devoted primarily to the interest of Polish communicants.||
Rev. Fridolm Pascalar
Spurred by the sympathetic enthusiasm of this priest the Poles at last emerged from the various racial groups with which heretofore they had been identified and became a unit as the Society of St. Casimir. The exact place and time at which this memorable society came into existence is somewhat involved in confusion. There are strong indications that it had existed among Poles in St. Joseph's Church prior to Father Pascalar's championship of the Polish cause in St. Michael's, and some of its first members are known to have been associated with St. Joseph's parish in the early '80s. However that may be, old records reliably show either the organization of this group or its open proclamation at St. Michael's Church on May 16th, 1887.
|A certain degree of confusion likewise exists respecting the original membership of this society. There is no doubt, however, that Adam Winiewski was its leader, and a few names, haphazardly preserved in old church records. are beyond question. These include Albert Brumka, whose widow died recently in this city, and two of the Cachman brothers, Michal (who later adopted the surname "Kowalski") and another whose Christian name does not appear, but may have been Alexander or Charles. (11) Joseph Ciechanowski and Konstanty Cyterski, also among the charter members on this list, were active and are well remembered by the older Polish residents of the community. Jacob Kucak, another on the list, was the father of Stanislaus Kucak, one of Rochester's first Polish dairymen. Wojciech Kwiatonski, also listed, lived practically all his life in Rochester; his son Andrew with Joseph Kaczmarek, the son of Wojciech Kaczmarek, another original member, were the first altar boys of old St. Stanislaus Church. The name of Walenty Kwiatkonski is included, as is that of Stephen Kwiatkowski, who still lives in the Polish community. (12} Matthew Pacek, it so happens, became the first Rochester Pole ever to serve on a Monroe County grand jury. Walenty Paprocki, now deceased, was long active in local Polish affairs and Rochester is still the home of his widow and family. Wantka, another of the original few, appears in the record without a Christian name. The brothers Joseph and Walenty Wejt are still living but have removed from the city.||(Footnote 11) This family appears in early Rochester directories as "Zachman", with the exception of Michal, who became "Kowalski"; an interesting example of the manner in which Germanic names previously assumed were frequently discarded by Poles after their purposes had been served. (Footnote 12) The names Kwiatonski, Kwiatkonski and Kwiatkowski will exhibit to the non-Slavic reader a mystifying coincidence of spelling, from which, however, no personal relationship or connection is to be inferred; analogous similarities in the English language (Richards, Richardson, Earl, Earls) ordinarily carry the variation at the end of the name, whereas in Polish it is more apt to occur immediately ahead of the characteristic prepositional ending.|
Kaczmarek, Kwiatkowski, the Wejt brothers and Peter Bartylak seem to be the only present survivors among charter members, and assertion which, however, cannot be made without qualification. The uncertainty regarding the actual date of organization disorders the existing records and befogs the memories of the few persons still living who had a part in the activities of the society forty-six years ago. Developments of a controversial nature which took place in the community at a later date, and in which this society was involved collaterally, also may affect the value of certain records prepared during the interval of strife. The older residents today seem inclined to assume that all of the thirty odd Polish families then living about Rochester had male representatives in St. Casimir's Society, but careful inquiry has shown this to be an unwarranted assumption.
Notwithstanding who may or may not have enjoyed acknowledged membership in St. Casimir's Society, it is the fact that virtually all Poles in Rochester quickly rallied to its support and sought to become associated with its avowed object, the establishment of a Roman Catholic parish and church building for Poles. With the tireless assistance of Father Pascalar, whose influence went so far as to bring about loans of money to the new society, a fund was raised, sufficiently large to warrant presenting its plans to the Rochester See. Here again, Father Pascalar acted as friendly intermediary, and obtained for the project the sanction of Rt. Rev. Bernard MeQuaid, then Bishop of Rochester, who agreed to provide a Polish priest. Meetings of St. Casimir's society were held on Sunday afternoons, with the permission of Father Pascalar, in the old church building, which still exists as the St. Michael parish hall. Here it was that money was contributed, plans made and the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka born.
Attendant upon the accumulation of the necessary amount, and the purchase of a building site, a difference of opinion arose which, while of no importance in itself, was finally resolved in a manner showing that the Polish group had already begun to feel itself the independent basis of a future community. Certain influences in the parish of St. Michael which had regarded with favor the objects for which the St. Casimir Society was organized, and had rendered material aid to the furtherance of those objects, sought, very naturally, and in a spirit of well meant assistance, to select a site for the erection of the proposed new church building. Equally natural and well meant, however, was the determination of the Poles to decide for themselves the location of the building. The final adjustment of this small difference in favor of the site selected by St. Casimir's Society is important in that it determined the central geographical spot from which the present Polish community grew up, with the consequent physical expansion and economic development of the city in that quarter.
The site finally selected, at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Norton Street, building proceeded apace, and on the 16th day of November, 1890, the new church was consecrated in a colorful ritual presided over by Bishop McQuaid and the dream of St. Casimir's Society and Father Pascalar became a reality. At the dedication service High Mass was conducted by Bishop McQuaid and a stirring sermon was presented by Rev. John Pitas, a Polish priest who came from Buffalo for the occasion. On the same day, as a fitting climax to the event, Rev. Theophilus Szadzinski received at the hands of the Bishop the appointment as rector of the new church.
|Father Szadzinski, but thirty-three years of age at this time, was a native of Pleszew, Poland, whose secular education had been received in his native land (Ostrowo) and who had prepared as a priest at the American College of Louvain, Belgium. As a deacon, he had come to this country on August 7, 1890, and three days later had preached a sermon in the Polish language at St. Michael's Church of this city, reputed to he the first Polish sermon ever given in Rochester. His ordination by Bishop McQuaid had taken place on September 8th, only a brief sixty-nine days prior to his assumption of the St. Stanislaus parish. His assignment to this post, therefore, was highly appropriate and his death on August 27th, 1909, a few days following the formal dedication of the second St. Stanislaus edifice, erected largely by his efforts, brought to its mortal close an enviable career of service devoted exclusively to his beloved parish of St. Stanislaus.||
Rev. Theophilus Szadzinski
Interesting stories are still told of the high excitement that prevailed during the construction of the old church and of the purchase of lots in its vicinity by those who welcomed the opportunity to plant in the fields about Norton Street (at that time the northern city line) a neighborhood of Poles; of the vote taken by the small congregation to name the new church; of the St. Stanislaus society then formed and of the Uhlans of St. Michael, organized under the leadership of Stephen Zielinski, still a prominent Polish citizen of Rochester, who marched with his compatriots, in the impressive uniform of the Polish Uhlans, through the mud of Hudson Avenue.
The launching of St. Stanislaus Church may be said to establish Rochester Poles for the first time in a definite section of the city and to localize later Polish arrivals about an acknowledged center of culture. The creation of a Polish parish brought widely separated groups of families together and fused them into a living community. It offered to them the opportunity of common religious worship, and the benefit of spiritual guidance brought to them in their own language. It afforded to them the necessary incentive for congenial social life and a focal point about which to develop it. In the realm of the purely material, it opened to them a generous expanse of hitherto undeveloped real estate in a corner of the city ripe for development and relatively free from impending encroachment.
For these reasons it may safely be said that the persons and agencies responsible for the successful foundation of St. Stanislaus Church, while by no means the first Poles in this City or vicinity, partake strongly of the character of pioneers in the creation of the present community. The seed was now rooted, as later developments have shown, in fertile soil, and the principle of community consciousness born. Passing years were to see this consciousness unfold in the warmth of common association, to see it tested in the whirlpool of internal dissension, and at last finely tempered in the fiery crucible of war.
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